panic attacks, negative thoughts, & trust


Everything will be fine with my boyfriend until I randomly get a panic attack. I start thinking the worst possible things (things abusive boyfriends have done to me in the past) and I end up having conversations with him about these thoughts/feelings, especially the insecurities that the thoughts cause me. Luckily he is a good boyfriend. He is supportive and understanding and compassionate. However, every conversation is getting to be repetitive and I don't want to wear him out or push him away. That causes more fear. We have been together for a year and get along really well. We have a lot of good times, are there for each other, and rarely argue. I'm not used to feeling good, being treated well, or even being accepted. In a messed up way it makes me feel uncomfortable, almost as if I would be more comfortable if he was abusive toward me instead. How do you manage your thoughts and fear and panic when it sets in? What helps? What should I do? I trust my boyfriend, but I am so hypersensitive and anxious about things that cause insecurities. I end up thinking he isn't who I think he is... It's so frustrating that I do this to myself and that I feel so out of control. I feel so embarrassed and helpless.


I have the exact same reactions to my boyfriend that you do to yours. When I get insecure, I want reassurance and feel better when he gives it to me. The only thing that I think I do differently is that I usually don't tell him I'm having an insecurity attack about 90% of the time just because I know that it's a spasm that really isn't a reflection of what he did or said. I try only to share insecurities that I think have a basis in reality and that he can help to resolve. For the other 90% of the time, I try to practice self-soothing, and to look within myself to see what hurts are still unresolved. By not sharing, I also save my boyfriend unnecessary stress. Sometimes, I am still able to get reassurance even without sharing. I'll note all the ways his actions and behaviors are refuting my insecurities. You're boyfriend sounds great. My boyfriend has been so great, and that has been healing. So in actuality, I'm also having a lot less insecurity about the relationship and insecurities in general.

But I just want to say that I'm an old lady and have done a lot to heal and grow. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wasn't able to check myself in this way. I also thought differently - I thought that I could "cure" my partner's stuff and he could "cure" mine, but that lead to a lot of codependent behaviors that were dysfunctional.


What sorts of coping mechanisms did you use with your panic attacks before he was in your life?
I guess I used a lot of grounding techniques. I would think the opposite of whatever was bothering me i.e. think positive thoughts, which was hard. I would journal a lot. I would reach out to a friend or my therapist. I would do something like put on makeup and dye my hair. Mostly I would lay in bed with my dog and sometimes cry if I felt like I needed to.


The price for ignoring or distorting the body’s messages is being unable to detect what is truly dangerous or harmful for you and, just as bad, what is safe or nourishing. Self-regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with your body. Without it you have to rely on external regulation—from medication, drugs like alcohol, constant reassurance, or compulsive compliance with the wishes of others.

This is from 'The body keeps the score', don't know if you've read it?
I started reading this book and since then I feel so much more understood and less ashamed. Maybe this book will help you accepting yourself, talking about the book with your boyfriend also makes him understand you more.

I don't really know what to do to 'manage' the thought, they just pop up in my experience and once they're in my mind I can't stop them (unless asking the same questions to my boyfriend everyday).
My therapist always tells me when I'm stressed to call colours and objects. For example; spongebob is yellow.

Please don't feel bad about yourself or ashamed, this is completely normal behavior for a traumatised person, you'll get there someday!


I do good with neutral thoughts. Don’t need to be positive, but to snap out. I have magic formulas that I apply to myself.

Count to eleven. Think of a leopard. Watch an object, count to eleven. Think of a garden. Count to eleven. Come back! I’ve been doing this when panic attacks or freezing/dissociation was starting to rampage, it helps to come back. I think it’s nice to develop your neutral/good, that is that isn’t emotionally charged but still agreeable. If I seek for things too positive, it stresses me out because clearly I’m not there.

Good luck. The two of you seem aware and sweet. You’ll make it!